Until very recently, a corneal transplant was a very difficult affair, with the entire cornea of a donor being removed and implanted in the recipient.

Now, it is possible to replace only one portion of the cornea, 25 micron thick, to the recipient and thereby reduce discomfort experienced by the patient through a procedure called PDEK (Pre-Descemet’s endothelial keratoplasty), Amar Agarwal, CMD, Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital, said.

The procedure, which was developed in 2013, is now being taught to a number of doctors from different parts of the world. Over 1,600 doctors from various countries, including USA, Italy, Iraq and Jordan, have come here to be trained in PDEK and Glued IOL, a procedure used for cataract. The intraocular implant and refractive surgery convention was inaugurated on Saturday.

“Blindness due to cataract and corneal disease are major factors affecting quality of life and socio-economic status of patients and the economy of a nation at a micro level,” Governor K. Rosaiah, who inaugurated the convention, said.

Statistics reveal that approximately 1,20,000 people in India have corneal blindness and this number is expected to increase by 30,000 every year. By 2020, it is expected that 8.25 million people in the country will have cataract, he said.

The J. Agarwal Global Icon Gold Medal was awarded to Keiki R. Mehta. Four awards and 18 gold medals were presented to doctors for their service. Health minister C. Vijaya Baskar was also present.

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